Whiplash injuries are caused by either a rapid acceleration or deceleration of a body part in relation to another. The neck and head are most commonly affected but it is also possible to experience whiplash type injuries at other parts of the body (e.g. mid and low back). Whiplash injuries are often associated with sprain and strain type injuries that result in altered biomechanics, which in turn can affect the overall recovery process.
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of whiplash injuries. However, whiplash can also result from sports accidents, physical abuse and other types of traumas, such as a fall.
Symptoms may develop directly following a trauma or injury but delayed onset of symptoms from days to months may also occur. Signs and symptoms of whiplash usually include:
- Neck/back pain and stiffness
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms (Neurological problems)
In severe cases individuals may also experience
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Concussion symptoms
How does a whiplash injury affect our body?
During trauma, structural damage and microtrauma occurs to the elements of the neck or spine such as ligaments, facet joints, joint capsules and muscles. This leads to intersegmental instability between joints that causes our muscles to tighten in an attempt to stabilize the affected area. The resulting altered spinal biomechanics are often associated with neuroanatomical implications, which may lead to further aggravation if not addressed promptly.
Early assessment and intervention with these cases is a key factor to a better prognosis. Whether acute, sub-acute or chronic, the normalization of altered biomechanics is imperative to the successful outcome of rehabilitative measures. Class 3 Laser technologies such as the Bioflex Laser are also effective in the treatment of whiplash related disorders by promoting tissue regeneration, thus enhancing structural stabilization. The combined efforts of skilled chiropractic care to normalize altered biomechanics along with laser/photobiomodulation therapy to promote tissue regeneration work in synergy to enhance structural stabilization and maximize patient outcomes.
Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks to months. However, some people may continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury. In cases of undiagnosed altered biomechanics and mismanagement with whiplash injuries, there is an increased likelihood of evolution to chronic pain symdromes. Nevertheless, the application of innovative methods of assessment and care significantly contribute in reducing disability and recovery time.